Why do people cheat?
Cheating can have so many different reasons that it’s almost going to be pointless to try and analyze every single possible scenario. So instead, let us talk about what it reveals about the people involved, and the situation that they’re in.
In this article, I will tell you 16 things that I’ve come to learn about a person who cheats.
1) They suck at communication
Oftentimes, there is more to cheating than meets the eye.
They might be having problems with the relationship, but they don’t know how to approach their partner about these problems so instead of talking it out, they pretend everything is fine. But humans love intimacy so they’ll crave attention elsewhere.
Then someone else gives them attention, and all of a sudden they find themselves happy and excited again.
It might start small and innocuous at first, but as time goes on the relationship grows and grows, and before they know it, they’re cheating on their S.O.
If only they expressed their problems at the start, cheating could have been prevented. But some people just lack good communication skills.
2) They are impulsive
Another cause for cheating is a lack of self-control. They’re going for that fast and powerful high that comes with the conquest of someone new, or the satisfaction in being coveted by others.
The fact that they are risking losing their partner or, at the very least, hurting them either does not cross their mind or only adds to that thrill.
The very real issues with STDs or child support just don’t trouble them at the moment and, instead, they thrive on the thrill of doing a “dirty” forbidden deed.
They just can’t help it, they’ll say. And it’s probably true. However, don’t ever make excuses for them. Ask yourself if you’re truly happy to be with an impulsive person who craves for the thrill.
3) They see it as a kink
There are thrill-seeking couples who build their own relationships by cheating on each other and playing with fire. It’s a valid kink and if you and your SO engage in consensual “cheating” and enjoy it, then all the power in the world to you.
Anyway, if you both agree to it, it’s not really cheating.
But if you’re not the kind of person who enjoys being cheated on, while your partner is the kind of person who does, you might have to break it off especially if neither of you are willing to adapt or if adapting to each other is just too much for either of you.
4) Being in a relationship makes them feel trapped
People who are new to relationships end up cheating because they’re not used to the intimacy and the commitment.
Maybe they feel like they’re being babied too much or they might yearn for the ‘freedom’ in being single and it’s suffocating them.
This is very much the case if they used to be a massive flirt when they were single. But even if they weren’t, even if they were that quiet guy who lingers unseen in a corner, knowing that there are things they just can’t do rubs them the wrong way.
So they rebel. They flee.
Or maybe they might realize that they have a Madonna-whore complex and they just aren’t made for a committed relationship.
5) Suddenly, they realize they’re a catch!
There’s this thing where someone who hasn’t ever had a partner or has been single for a long time, is going to have a hard time looking for a relationship. But the moment they get someone, BAM!
People suddenly start paying attention. It’s weird, but this sort of behavior is rooted in human psychology.
If someone is taken, then that means someone else has decided this person is worth having or has traits that make them a good choice for a partner.
So other people then would try to take that person for themselves. On the other hand, if someone isn’t taken, then the immediate conclusion is that there must be some reason why nobody has gone after them.
This leads to people who are in relationships facing a lot of temptation!
People who have been in relationships for a while might have since learned to resist and stay loyal to their partners. But someone who is new and has had no experience might easily find themselves overwhelmed and, not knowing how to handle it, cheat.
6) They have low self-esteem
Cheating isn’t usually something that happens overnight. There are usually many things that lead to it, and insecurity and low self-esteem are one of the more common reasons why people cheat.
It might seem odd to cheat on someone you love if you’re low on self-esteem. You already have someone who cares for you, after all! Wouldn’t it only make sense for you to cherish them and make sure they’re not getting hurt? Well, maybe.
But with low self-esteem comes insecurity. You might start doubting whether they truly love you, or you might feel like you don’t deserve them. And of course, you’d crave validation wherever you may get it.
And so you become a drifter, always looking for and getting drawn to the people who make you feel validated and special. And before you know it, you’re cheating on your love.
Sometimes people don’t realize that the reason they or their partner is cheating is because of self-esteem, and honestly, there are little others can do for them other than point out the fact that it exists and make them aware of it.
It takes acknowledgment of the fact that the problem exists for one to even begin fixing one’s issues in the first place. Then they should go to therapy. There’s no other way around this one.
7) They’re repeat offenders
You’ve probably heard of the saying “once a cheater, always a cheater.”
This isn’t always true because, well, people can change. Some people simply learn better as they grow older and see just how much harm cheating does to people they love. Or they might have gotten cheated on and realized just how badly it hurts.
But it’s also true that people who have cheated in the past are likely to cheat again.
Cheating happens because the cheater has a personal problem of some sort. I’ve already talked about some of them, like having low self-esteem, being impulsive, and whatnot. The sad fact is that most people simply don’t face their issues until it whacks them in the face, and even then they might take their sweet time in dealing with it.
So if someone else has cheated in the past, you have a reason to be wary. Especially if it wasn’t that long ago that they cheated, and even if they cheated on their previous SO with you, and dumped them for you. They did it to their ex, they could do it to you too.
So keep cheaters at arm’s length until you are sure that they have indeed changed, and as long as you accept the risk of getting hurt if they prove your trust misguided.
8) They don’t know what they want
Sometimes cheating happens because the cheater simply doesn’t understand who they truly are, and are just trying to do what society expects them to do.
For example, they might try to do their best to be “together” with someone of the opposite sex simply because people expect them to. People may be pressuring them to be together with someone whose personality just isn’t their type.
Or they might be polygamous or polyamorous but where they grew up, it’s expected that you would be with one person and one person only.
So they feel lost, trapped in a relationship without any genuine feelings on their side of the relationship.
Or they might feel something but feel like they’re being bound. And in an attempt to feel something they might ‘expand their reach’ as it were and get into emotional and physical relationships left and right.
Or they might not even try, and it just so happens that someone who does make them feel something passes by and draws them in. They would feel guilty about it, and they might try to rationalize it.
Tell themselves “it’s not cheating!” or “it’s okay, I’m not seeing them again anyways.” But the deed is done, and they have already cheated on their partner.
Honestly, it’s for everyone’s benefit if people take the time to do some soul-searching and try to understand and accept who they truly are before getting into a relationship.
9) They are idealistic…and they want a 100% match!
They might be cheating because they’re just way too idealistic. Even though they are in a beautiful, loving relationship they might be dissatisfied because it just doesn’t hold up to the perfect match they have been dreaming of.
They might be too heavily influenced by the Hollywood image of the ‘ideal love’, where two lovers are just so perfect for each other that there is just flat out nothing missing in their lives. All they need is in their partner, and all their partner needs is in them.
Which is honestly a good ideal, but relationships like that are not only rare, they also take a lot of personal effort to build up.
To make it worse, the rise of the internet and dating apps like tinder made it easy to just swipe through a list of people who want to get themselves a date and book yourself a quick hook-up.
This is not only a massive temptation for the person looking for a one-night stand because…well, you can just schedule a quick night out at a hotel, it also fills the idealistic mind with daydreams of the possibility that they might find their one true love out there in digital space.
10) They always want something more.
There’s something called the 80-20 rule. What it means is that you’re never going to get 100% of what you want out of a relationship with a single person.
In a healthy relationship, you will get only about 80% of what you want out of your partner. The remaining 20% is for you to fill up.
Now the healthy way to fill up that 20% is by engaging in a lot of ‘me’-time, by indulging in your hobbies and doing other things that you know will make you happy. Meet your friends, paint, write stories, read books, or maybe go fishing (but the literal kind, not for compliments from strangers!).
There’s a lot you can do to fill up that ‘hole’ and, indeed, the fact that your partner doesn’t have it all gives you space to explore your identity and be yourself.
But some people will not see it that way!
Instead, they will look at other people and be drawn to those who can give them that remaining 20% they just aren’t having with their current partner. It lures them in. That missing 20% becomes so desirable that the 80% they already have will feel like it doesn’t matter at all, that what they are missing is worth more than what they already have.
Of course, what happens when they do get that 20% they were missing, and lose that 80% they had is that they will often realize that they were better off with what they had lost. One can basically sum this whole thing up as the result of both greed and a lack of deep thought.
11) They’re angry and hurt
It’s a cliché you see a lot in dramas and trashy novels. Some guy got cheated on by his girlfriend, so he looks for other people and cheats on her left and right. Sometimes the two make up and vow to be faithful to each other, and sometimes they break up and continue cheating on everyone they get involved with.
And there’s a grain of truth to that. Some people get so hurt from being cheated on by their SO that they cheat on them as ‘revenge’, or they might say something like ‘all boys are cheaters’ or ‘all girls are cheaters’ and use that as an excuse to cheat.
After all, if they’re all cheaters, it’s only fair to cheat on them in turn, right? They deserve it, right?
It’s a disgusting cycle that, sadly, propagates itself. What sucks is that it takes a truly exceptional person to go “oh damn, cheating sucks” when they get cheated on instead of blaming the other sex and try to avoid making the people they love feel that pain.
12) They’re short on integrity and mental strength
It takes integrity to stay loyal, and a lot of mental strength to back that integrity up. See, there are a lot of different reasons that can push someone to cheating, and sometimes it just happens without them being aware it’s happening.
But most of the time, people know they are getting into an affair. They just try to make all sorts of excuses about it, saying it’s ‘not cheating’ until they cross the line where they literally can’t say it’s ‘not cheating’ anymore.
Of course, even then, some people will keep telling themselves that it’s not!
Someone who has integrity will not let themselves slip down that slippery slope of excuses. They will stop when they realize what they’re doing or, in the case of a sudden, whirlwind affair that caught them unawares, acknowledge that they had indeed cheated.
They will then come clean and think about why they cheated in the first place. And this is where the ‘mental strength’ bit comes full force.
It takes a lot of mental strength for one to admit that the relationship just isn’t what they’re looking for and break it off, instead of sticking to it and cheating on their partner all the while.
And even if their intent isn’t to break the relationship off, it takes just as much strength and courage to admit to having cheated, or to having almost done so, to one’s partner.
13) They need to grow up a bit more
The maturity of a person is a very significant factor in whether one cheats or not.
And this doesn’t always have to do with age — and in fact, with the stubbornness that sets in with age, it can actually be harder to mature if you’ve reached an old age without having grown up.
But what is maturity? What is growing up?
Maturity means being able to think deeply, to take fault after having made a mistake, and understand that there is yet more that they need to learn.
To be able to respond as is appropriate at the correct time and place, and to hold back when it’s not appropriate. It also means being able to distance themselves from that emotional, egoistic part of themselves that insists it’s someone else’s fault.
Growing up, of course, is one’s personal journey to maturity. It’s not always sunshine and roses.
It can often mean having to get hurt and getting the right lessons from the ordeal. There are people out there who confess to having cheated on their SO before, and then regretted it so badly that when they came clean and lost their partner, the pain of having hurt and betrayed their partner stings them harder than losing them.
And there are those who thought nothing of cheating on their partners, only for them to realize the harm they’re doing to people when they come home one day and see a family member utterly broken over being cheated on.
And these people, taking in all that hurt, strive to be better and to not cheat again. Someone who is immature, obviously, has none of these.
14) They’re only human
Humans are NOT naturally monogamous.
That is, we’re not exactly a species wired to stick with one partner for the rest of our lives. For most of our history (and prehistory), it was the norm for people to have multiple spouses.
In fact, before Western imperialism spread the Western ideal of marriage roughly 84% of human societies practiced polygamy, compared to 16% who practiced monogamy.
There is an instinct to be polygamous, which may differ in intensity from person to person. But it shines through even in the most monogamous of societies, where the elite cheats and have affairs all the time simply because they can get away with it.
This isn’t to say that you should say “Oh, it’s just their polygamous instincts getting the better of them” when your SO cheats on you.
Even though those instincts exist, you most likely started your relationship on monogamous grounds and cheating is a violation of that.
But you should nonetheless try to be understanding. Forgive them and move on, though it’s entirely up to you whether you should stay with them or break up.
Either way, it’s not about you, not really. Don’t let it make you feel too bad about yourself because just as with all things in life, it just happens.
The problem rests on their shoulders, and if you can’t stand these problems of theirs or the hurt of their betrayal then go look for someone better.
15) They’re cowards
Yeah, so we’re all only human. We’re flawed, we get confused, we act on impulse, and get bored a lot. But something that lies at the core of cheating, and something that describes cheaters perfectly is that they’re cowards.
All of the things mentioned above point towards cowardice as the thing that enables cheating in the first place.
They’re afraid to confront problems and are terrified at what they might lose by asking so they don’t communicate.
They’re afraid to lose an opportunity to experience what it’s like to be with another person, so they take what they can.
They’re afraid to face what they might find if they think deeply about themselves, so they avoid introspection, which means they fail to grow up as a person, which means they keep on repeating the same old mistakes.
And it goes on.
Most of all, they’re afraid to let go of you because they don’t want to lose anything.
16) They just don’t care
But of course, sometimes people just don’t care.
There are people who cheat because of all these complicated reasons…because they’re missing something, or because they were hurt, or because they’re insecure.
But there are also people who just don’t care that they’re hurting people with what they’re doing! Yes, they exist and we all know it.
All they want is to feel pleasure, to bask in other people’s attention, and to indulge in the rush of conquest.
These are called psychopathic cheaters and they are people you need to watch out for. Unlike people who cheat because of honest, if painful reasons, these people aren’t going to change and stop cheating.
They might pretend, for sure, but they don’t see anything wrong in it, they don’t feel regret. Hell, they might even look for like-minded folk online and share their tips on how to conduct a successful affair!
So you shouldn’t expect them to change and instead, you should do your best to keep them at arm’s length.
As a rule of thumb, if they’re a cheater, and they show signs of psychopathy or sociopathy, you should be wary.
Cheating is no simple thing.
It cuts deep and leaves scars on everyone involved.
It’s easy to say that cheaters are simply being selfish and, yes, that’s quite true. They are indeed being selfish. They only thought about themselves. But there’s often more to it than just pure selfishness.
The reasons for cheating could be deep-rooted or it could be because they just don’t care at all if they hurt people.
But in the end, it’s not really your duty to understand them, is it? Unless, of course, if you’re the cheater or you’re with a cheater and you believe they can truly change themselves.
But don’t hang around too long if you’re hurting yourself while waiting for them to “grow up.” Understand why they cheat but you have to start focusing on your happiness.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
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